“Why are you late?” she asked through gritted teeth, wincing and relaxing again.
Such a simple question. Why was I late? Did it even matter? I was here now. That was what was important. That’s all. Are you sure about that?
The nurse’s gloved hand crossed my field of vision. With a damp cloth, she wiped Jenny’s brow.
“I’m here now,” I said and grabbed her hand. She squeeze hard, her whole body stiffening. It was getting close now.
A break in the pain. Jenny pressed her question. “What was so fucking important that you couldn’t be here? I called and called. I needed you.”
I couldn’t tell her. Not now. Not here. Not like this. Chicken shit.
People, so many people. Doctors, nurses, orderlies. Beeping. Laughter in the hallway. The sound cut through me. I wanted to yell. I want to scream for everyone to stop and go away.
“Had to go to the office. Pick up a few files while I was off.” There it was. Another lie. A slippery slope.
“You just had to see her, didn’t you?” She was yelling as another wave hit. Voices behind me talking about dilation and complications. Time was getting short.
Was it easier to let her think that? No. The affair was a mistake. And it was over. Almost three months now. Bullshit. Even if Mia wasn’t there today, you would have stumbled, wouldn’t you? Coward.
“She wasn’t there. Just Gary.” That wasn’t true. Her eyes were wide with distrust.
“He called me in.” Also not true. She hated me.
“Said he had an at-home project for me.” Not even close. Another lie. Deeper and deeper.
“You can’t even focus on our family for a single moment.” Her accusation stung, spat out with venom. Can you blame her?
“You’ll have to leave now, sir.” A male voice. “We have to take her.”
I stood there dumbstruck, not comprehending the doctor. The words didn’t make sense. I was nudged aside and almost fell.
“I love you, Brian. But I hate you too”, she said as they wheeled her away.
I ran after the gurney, kissed her forehead. “I’m sorry.” You have no idea.
I’m at Jenny’s grave holding Benny. He’s getting so big. So quick. The car horn rings out and breaks my sombre reverie.
Juggling the six-month-old on one hip, I bend and place a small bouquet of daffodils on the marker. Benny touches my wet face as I stand up.
Back at the car, Mia is in the passenger seat, window rolled down and she’s sweating in the way that only a pregnant woman can.
“It’s time,” Mia says.
I tuck Benny in his seat and we leave for the hospital.